The Quest to the West Road Trip


After I found out that I was heading to graduate school, I thought about how I might spend the time leading up to starting school. I considered a trip with two good friends to Australia, but then decided against it as that trip would happen during the first semester at the end of September into October. Not long after that decision, I was thinking about visiting a couple National Parks that turned into a plan for a grand road trip.

The road trip was about 4000 miles over 16 days. I drove from my place in MA to visit family and friends as far as Colorado before turning around and coming back. 

I wrote about this adventure here:

It was a wild time and I am glad to get my travel jitters out.

Today was the first day of in-person classes for me at Northeastern University as a PhD student. It was exciting to get back into the swing of formalized learning.

More updates on being a graduate student to come, I'm honestly still figuring the ropes out.

In the Badlands NP of South Dakota

Vegas and Nantucket 2023

Immediately after finishing work on July 14th, I boarded a set of flights to Las Vegas. I was on my way to the MIT Pi Reunion. In nerdy fashion, MIT holds its first major undergraduate class reunion at π years since graduation (approx. 3.14 years). That night, I was in the Aria on the strip with friends. I got straight to it. I embraced everything at least once and tried a couple games in order to waste my money. Gambling is a general waste. Perhaps someday I might try poker with a bit of cash, but generally I saw the lost avarice that evening. I went to sleep at 6 AM local time and a few brews and taco bell. 

The following morning, about 2.5 hours later, I woke up and nursed my headache with a frappe before hopping into a van. As part of the reunion festivities, I paid for a desert ATV tour in the Mojave. The van couriered the group and I off to the Nelson hills, where we rode at < 25 mph along worn paths of sand. I was stunned by the heat and I couldn't imagine staying out there much longer than we did. The wind against my thin hiking shirt was the only thing keeping me from spontaneous combustion.

That night, after seeing some more friends and taking a nap, I was out on the whole strip. The roving party including me, went out to see multiple casinos from Paris, to Caesars Palace, to the Bellagio, and more. It was fun to see the insanity of the tourist city all around my friends and I. It was a good time, but not something to maintain. I sincerely think that anyone interested in seeing the excess should witness it, but not indulge too deeply, lest they fall from grace like Odysseus's men to Circe. I slept wonderfully at my room in the Aria and woke refreshed the next morning. 

The next morning, I drove out of town and saw Hoover Dam and the Atomic History Museum. I had a great time learning about the engineering marvels of the outer realms of the Vegas valley. I was also a bit stunned by the lack of resources and wealth off the strip, but not too stunned.

On Monday, I drove through the desert with Coyote and we listened to a bunch of our favorite songs. As we drove by the shifting sands, I thought about my relationship with money. In Vegas, money was everywhere and everything seemed to have a price tag within the bounds of the casinos. It is a dirty place, lacking anything much deeper in purpose than dollars and cents. However, it is also a very freedom loving place. It is an American place, in some very true sense of Americanism. I am a Patriot in many regards and parts of my patriotism respected Vegas for its allowance for freedom in expression and facilitation of personal desires within the bounds of others. Vegas is a weird place. We continued driving through the desert. The views were spectacular. Lake Mead was... having a hard time.

We passed over a large part of Arizona to reach the Grand Canyon. Humorously, we only had thirty minutes to take in the immense size of the Canyon because we had plans in Flagstaff at dinnertime. Dinner was great, although the waiter kept joking with us that our plain water was actually full glasses of tequila. It was a real family establishment, no joke. It was owned by a small Mexican-American family and also catered to families. When we got back to our motel, I turned on the cable TV in the room. The second channel I turned to was the RFD-TV and it was showing the national, children's rope down competition. Through laughter, we sat impressed as 8 and 9 year olds on horseback lassoed down young bulls. Then, we saw barrel racing and mutton busting. Mutton busting is like bull riding, but for 5 years olds on sheep.

On Tuesday, we got breakfast at a traditional southwest establishment in downtown Flagstaff. 'The House the Chilaquiles Built' was painted on the glass of the door. After buying cheap, but tasteful T-shirts in a souvenir shop, we mounted up in our Hyundai Elantra rental car and booked it to Phoenix, AZ, for our return flight to Boston. 

Phoenix, AZ, in July is a confusing place. If one were blindfolded and placed in downtown Phoenix in July, they might feel like Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego if they had burned (they were the three jewish men thrown into a furnace by Nebuchanezzar II of Babylon, but did not burn as God protected them). It is a hot place and I was stunned to learn how many human souls subject themselves to living there. I suppose it is easy for me to say this, when I have never lived in such an arid, hot place. I wish them well, despite their condition.

On the flight back, we did crosswords and played other games. I dozed off for only a moment. 

The following couple days at work were busy and I was heavily distracted. I was lost in thought about my next trip. Despite this, I met some minor deadlines and my main obligations were satisfied.

On that Thursday, I left work and jumped in a car bound for Hyannis, MA. There were five of us in the car, the sixth member of our party could not leave work early due to compliance requirements in the finance industry. The party of five boarded the last ferry of the day to Nantucket after reaching the Steamboat Authority parking lot. 

A blood red moon waning as a thin crescent sat just above the horizon. After the sun set, but before we reached port, all one could see from the stern of the ship was the moon, stars, and pale lights of the boat reflecting on the wake. It was loud, but peaceful. As we pulled into port, I was struck by the line of lights along the shore and the thinness of the civilization against the sea and the sky. Up close, things gained their edges and I was told of the various landmarks at the port. Upon disembarkment, we found a vehicle parked for us and made our way to our lodging on the south side of the island. The whole island is only a bit over 40 square miles so anything is a short drive away by my standards. However, there are no stoplights or organized throughways for vehicles on the island so we had to cobble together instructions by viewing a map on my phone. After only a couple wrong turns, we got to the beach house and quickly fell asleep. The following morning, we made some plans and I got a few last things of work done. When I finished, the others had already left to get supplies at the only Stop & Shop grocery store on island. There are only two grocery stores on island and both are rather small and expectantly pricy. 

We spent the days exploring the island and enjoying the sandy beaches and cold water. It was a dream on Earth and I am so very grateful for having the opportunity to visit. I tossed a stone into the water as we left on that following Monday. Some folks say that you are guaranteed to return if you toss a penny into the water as you pass Brant Point lighthouse. However, I think the stone works just as well and doesn't add to copper pollution.

Technology Transfer

I write this post from a small cabin on the Thunder Bay River.

My work colleagues and I are up in Michigan to attend an event to present technology we hope to transfer... that is an interesting way of putting it. Wikipedia defines technology transfer as "the process of transferring technology from the person or organization that owns or holds it to another person or organization, in an attempt to transform inventions and scientific outcomes into new products and services that benefit society". I want to make a career in engineering systems that can be effectively transferred. This means that I want to develop useful tools. I am learning how this is done at my job and I hope to have additional experiences in my upcoming graduate studies.

While out in northern Michigan, I visited my great grandmother's grave and Gingell family cemetery. My paternal great grandmother was born a Gingell and married a Yankie. Her daughter was my grandmother Karen Yankie, who married my paternal grandfather, a Miske. Five generations before that, the Miske's were called the Mieschkes? Or something very similar.

The wooden deck at my apartment in Central is in a rough state. The previous tenants and the landlord have not kept it up in maintenance. 

I have harvested the first few green beans from my garden in Cambridge. 

We have stocked our bookshelf and begun hanging art

the piggies were put to pasture recently, they did not spend too much time in the sun though

I installed a new receive antenna at the WMBR station on campus. This summer I am learning more about the tech at the station.

Cambridge held a community dance party a few couple weeks ago. It was a blast, except for when people started doing the Cha Cha Slide on the bus stop by the post office, at that point the DJ turned off the music until they got down.

Around the time of the last post I was going to Michigan, here is a photo of deer in the gulch next to dad's house.


Moving Month


Packing up my old apartment took a while because I did it in tiny little pieces. I had the time and fortitude to put a handful of items in a box at a time. I moved into my new place in Cambridge with friends two weeks ago and I am haven't opened every box I packed. 

I packed in tiny, unorganized chunks. There were no labels. Every box was 'my stuff' and I had a lot of it. I have been motived to re-evaluate and spend less time on money and things. Instead, I should invest in good experiences, good people, and good investments for my future desires. 

Not that much of what I packed was particularly valuable, it simply is unnecessary for me to have a half-working printer (when I have another fully working one), an old set of electronic parts, or some tarnished cookware I rarely use... 

I'm happy in my new place. I am living with five other friends in the larger half of a duplex near central square of Cambridge, MA. It's a good position for me given the upcoming excitement of graduate school. I will be taking robotic mechanisms and dynamics graduate courses for the fall semester. I will be working part-time at Physical Sciences in the meantime and I am looking forward to being engrossed in a wide range of engineering work that is very interesting to me. 

My guinea pigs Juniper and Bear are sitting next to me in their cage by my desk in the house. They are chomping on hay and a pear while I type away. I think this will become our new routine. They are good buddies to keep me company and you know what they say about working with someone else, it keeps you honest... if I start to slack off and play too many video games they will totally judge me into sticking on my work.

My old living room, right before the big move.

Juniper wearing my glasses

A tiger swallowtail that sat outside my new apartment sipping water from a droplet

The liminal space of my former apartment hallway

My new grill and a beverage

The menu at Riverside pizza, which I will probably begin to frequent as a neighbor

The dirty dining table when we moved in

Myself, Conrad, and Hadrian settling in

My mess of a room immediately after assembling the bed

This past weekend I went up to New Hampshire. I didn't visit the border store, but I almost always notice the signs

I got lost for a minute on a trail near Crawford notch, all good now

View from Harvard bridge a few weeks ago

My brother visited near the end of May

I went to the Boston Robotics Summit

I also went to a Kali Uchis and Raye concert

and got a sunburn

and saw a Red Sox game, which they won over the Mariners

Lastly, an Owl!

Crawling Up a Mountain


Yesterday, I endured one of the hardest hikes of my life so far. It was grueling and it really did not need to be that way, if only I had brought the right gear.

I was a bit naïve. I thought that there would be a bit of snow and ice at the top part of Mt Jackson, but instead, half of the hike was on icepack and loose snow. It was brutal and I fell dozens of times, especially on the way down. In this foolishly humorous endeavor, I brought along my brother Tyler and friend Noah. I had told them that we would need boots and warm clothes, but not micro-spikes and poles. Thankfully, nobody got hurt and we all had a good laugh. This experience was a wake-up call that I shouldn't be so cavalier with my hiking decisions and planning carefully can avoid myself some unnecessary bruises.

On our way back, we stopped at the Tilton House of Pizza and got a couple slices and brews. The cold beer and warm cheese made up for the sore wounds and small cuts. I am looking forward to a good summer season of adventures and excitement. I browsed a couple sites last night for good equipment and I'll put out a review on this blog later when I inevitably break all of it through excessively loving usage. 

With Tyler in town, we have been going out on the town. We took the T to get downtown and I noticed the transit maps have changed with the addition of the green line extension. It's cool to have been in the area long enough to witness the city changing with the times. I feel like a Bostoner, a transplant for sure, but a resident of the city for sure. We went to Bova's bakery last night and got some pastries. We sat in the park and heard the revelers yelling into the night. Life is good.

Today is EC day on campus. I noticed that the Fire Proof Warehouse on the edge of campus was gutted, it's surprising to see this landmark change so drastically and furthermore shows how the area evolves as the time passes me on by.

My next purchase will probably be a grill for my rental house near Central Square. Got any recommendations?

My garden has started with tomatoes and peppers. Beans and peas to come along next. Then herbs, berries, and flowers.

Here are some more photos from the hike. It was very impressive to see Mt Washington looming over us while we sat on the summit of Mt Jackson. These mountains are intimidating and breathtaking at the same time. It is a good reminder of the smallness of an individual in nature.

Be careful holding out a nut in your hand, a bird might try and steal it.

The Quest to the West Road Trip

  After I found out that I was heading to graduate school, I thought about how I might spend the time leading up to starting school. I consi...